Why Does The Right Attack Nonprofits?

Robert Egger’s brilliant response to Rush Limbaugh’s recent diatribe against nonprofit employees. is a must watch, particularly the last five seconds or so, which neatly sum it up. Limbaugh claims that nonprofit employees are “lazy idiots” and “rapists” of the economy. Wow, like what he does for a living is so healthy…

This a month or so after a madman was stopped on the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco with a car full of weapons, headed to kill people at the ACLU and the Tides Foundation. Both of these organizations work to protect people’s rights, the ACLU being the better known of the two. Lesser known Tides’ mission is to promote social justice and maintain a healthy, sustainable environment. Why did the killer target them?

Glenn Beck makes his living by standing in front of a blackboard and espousing paranoid-inducing theories about democratic cabals aimed at destroying the American way of life.  His rants have succeeded in getting White House officials, such as Van Jones, removed, and, along with other Fox News conspirators, ACORN, a voter registration organization, disbanded.  In the first case, the White House, shamefully, asked Jones to resign in the face of all of the ridiculous criticism.  In the second, Fox News aired doctored footage alleging that ACORN helped pimps and prostitutes, creating falsified scandals that drove the nonprofit under.  ACORN was investigated, and the investigation found some evidence of tax evasion and questionable destruction of documents, but, notably, absolutely no consulting on prostitution practices or, as was widely alleged, improper handling of voter registrations. But all of this started when Beck chose them — as he did with Tides — as fodder for his unsubstantiated and false conspiracy theories.

I sum up Limbaugh’s comments as his standard, poorly-thought out rambling.  He meant some particular nonprofit or sort of nonprofit, and chose far too broad a term to make a lucid point.  But I question whether Limbaugh is ever capable of making lucid points. If we didn’t have the evidence of the bust for Oxycontin abuse, it wouldn’t be hard to still recognize drug-addled behavior.

What Beck does is far more insidious and dangerous. Like Limbaugh, he’s not concerned at all with honestly portraying the people and groups he discusses.  He’s building a narrative, one that the viewers can watch and feel that they have a special stake in, relayed by his tear-filled eyes and cautioning tone. This intimate dialogue is really engaging.  But Beck is entirely unwilling to be accountable for the lies that he spreads, even when they come close to inspiring mass murder.

It’s completely unintuitive and bizarre that nonprofits — poorly resourced organizations that struggle to do the work that our government does less and less of — are lambasted and threatened by the people that rally loudest for eliminating government programs.  We’re the ones who are getting important work done with funding that is volunteered, not assessed.  Most nonprofits have no leftist or rightwing agenda — they have clearly stated missions that they’re trying to serve (as Egger’s video makes clear).  Maybe Beck and Limbaugh should be a bit more appreciative of the fact that we enable mouths to be fed, museums and parks to stay open, and air to continue to be breathable in a country where the government can get fewer and fewer social services funded.

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